At The Loom | Finishing Fabric

We thought we'd write our step by step guide to fulling your woven fabric on our blog. Fulling is the process of agitating your fabric using heat, soap and friction to open up the wool fibres. 

We'll be showing you how to finish wool fabric, but the same principles can be applied to finishing other fibres too. Remember, there is no set way to finish fabric. It is how you want you fabric to handle that determines how little or much you wash it. We've put some resources at the bottom of this blog post if you'd like to do some further reading or research.

You need to decide how you are finishing the edges of your fabric. If you're hemming using a sewing machine, you can cut your fabric off the loom. Just make sure your last few picks have been beaten in tightly. This ensures that edges are stable when cutting.   

If you are making a scarf or blanket, you might want to hemstitch your edge. Cut your warp off the loom, giving yourself enough fringe after shrinkage. Lay your fabric flat on a table.

Inspect both sides for floats (threads floating unintentionally over the top of your fabric) Using a tapestry needle, weave them down into the fabric. Repeat this both sides of your fabric, making sure all floats are secured. You cannot sew down floats once the fabric has been finished. Do not cut the tails of yarn.

Fill a sink with lukewarm water. Add enough washing up liquid to the water so that it feels slippery. Fold in your fabric, making sure every surface is wet. Leave to sit for five minutes.

If you'd like your wool softer, this is the time to gently agitate your fabric. Scrunch the material together in your hands, gathering it into a big ball. It'll feel dense and resistent. Keep repeating this action until the fabric has some 'give'. It'll start to feel springy. You can hold the structure up to the light to check whether the gaps have closed up, or even try putting your fingers through the fabric. Keep agitating your fabric for around five minutes.

Once fulled (the stage before a woollen fabric felts) let out the water from the sink. You'll notice the colour of the water has changed. This is the oil coming out of the wool.

Rinse the wool is cold water until it runs clear.

Fill up your sink again with lukewarm water, adding around half the amount of soap this time. Leave the fabric to sit for five minutes more. Once soaked, drain the sink and rinse with cold water. 

If you'd like your fabric extra soft, you can add softner to you fabric. Just refill the sink with lukewarm water and softner, stand for five minutes and drain. You won't need to rinse the softner out this time.

Roll the length of your fabric in a towel to remove excess moisture. 

Trim off all of your tucked tails, as close to the fabric as you can.

Leave to dry outside if you can.

Press using a steam iron. 

The fabric is now ready to hem, sew or wear!


Other Resources

Jane Stafford Textiles Fulling Instructions

Finishing for commercial projects

Simple Finishing for Hand Woven Fabrics

Wet Finishing in the Sink


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